EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SECRET SUNSHINE (MIRYANG) (director/writer: Lee Chang-dong; screenwriter: from the novel by Chong-jun Yi; cinematographer: Yong-kyou Cho; editor: Hyun Kim; music: Christian Basso; cast: Jeon Do-yeon (Lee Shin-ae), Song Kang-ho (Kim Jong-chan), Seon Jeong-yeob (Jun); Runtime: 142; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lee Hanna; IFC Films; 2007-South Korea-in Korean with English subtitles)|
doesn't touch the heart as much as it thinks it does."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The former author Lee
Chang-dong ("Poetry"/"Peppermint Candy"/"Green Fish") writes and directs an
effective but not a superior drama that explores the effects of grief
on a young widow in modern Korea. It's based
on the novel by Chong-jun Yi.
Unfortunately, it doesn't touch the heart as much as it thinks it does,
and loses its way by becoming too plodding in its possible romance
story and showing how religious exuberance might give joy but could be
as dangerous as a drug when you come off its highs.
A pretty thirtysomething widow
named Lee Shin-Ae (Jeon Do-yeon) relocates with her elementary school-aged
youngster Jun (Seon Jeong-yeob) from
Seoul to Miryang, the hometown of her deceased businessman husband who
recently died in a car accident. We're told that Miryang means in
Chinese 'secret sunshine,' and that concert pianist Shin-Ae plans
to open a piano school, get away from gossips in Seoul who say her
hubby was an adulterer and because she wants to honor her late husband.
38-year-old single loser Kim
Jong-chan (Song Kang-ho), a friendly garage owner, immediately becomes
attracted to Shin-Ae
and won't stop following her around to get a date, even though she
shows no interest and is a different type of personality.
Shin-Ae tries to
purchase some land, Kim recommends a very wealthy and powerful land
Soon, thanks to gossips, everyone in Miryang knows Shin-Ae
has money to purchase some valuable land, and a man who moved here from
Busan kidnaps her
son and asks for ransom. When Shin-Ae
pays him less than the amount
required, the boy is killed. Jun's
slain body is found by the local reservoir, and mom goes into a deep
funk. Driven by unrelenting mental anguish, Shin-Ae joins an evangelical church and becomes a re-born Christian. This
gives her temporary relief believing that God is by her side. But when Shin-Ae visits
the prison to forgive the killer, he tells her he has found God and has
peace now that he knows God has forgiven him. This drives Shin-Ae into an ever downward spiral of
Jeon Do-yeon won the best actress prize at Cannes for her emotional performance.
REVIEWED ON 12/22/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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